Several weeks before I retired, I planned my very last Teen Advisory Board (TAB) meeting. Instead of conducting business, I decided to have a party and invite former and current member so that I could officially say goodbye and hug everyone. I knew that several of the teens that had graduated from high school were attending colleges in Illinois, but I had not the faintest idea if anyone would be home that weekend. When I did not receive any replies, I assumed that everyone was just too busy.
When the doors opened on the day of the party, I was speechless and I just could not stop wiping the tears! One of the former members told me that she had not been home for a couple of months, but she just had to come to say thanks and to give me a hug. When Ryan, a young man who always “marched to the beat of a very different drummer” arrived, I said “you came”! He looked at me, said, “why did you think I would not come? I could not miss it. Everyone lavished me with gifts, then, expressed their love, thanks and appreciation for my encouragement.
Over the years, I frequently wrote letters of recommendation when the students were engaged in the college application process. When I received an e-mail from a former TAB member, I was so overwhelmed with such pride for him. Mark was unable to attend the party, but he expressed his thanks for the help and guidance that I had extended to him. “Your service in organizing student run programs and the Teen Advisory Board was so helpful for me. Thank you also for all of your recommendations. I am in my second year studying Architecture at Cooper Union in New York City and I cannot believe how much I am taking in. My sights are limitless for the future…” I must have gone through a box of tissues, and will always carry a special place in my heart for this talented, focused young man.
I may no longer work at the Teen Services desk, but I will always be an advocate for teens, so I look forward for opportunities to stay involved. One of the current TAB members organized a team for the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life overnight walk at her high school so I signed on to walk in memory of my sisters. We met for lunch during Spring Break just to chat and to finalize plans for the event. One of the local high school librarians asked me if I would be interested in participating in the teen book discussion group that is held after school once a month. A middle school student invited me to attend her school play that was performed on a Saturday evening. What a stellar performance! She just bubbled when I presented her a bouquet of Roses…
I am reminded of a line from a Spiritual that continues to resonate from the core of my being. “If I can help somebody as I pass along this way… then my living shall not be in vain”. If you are having a challenging day, may I encourage you to “keep on keeping on.” You may never know how much you are impacting the life of a teen.
Teen Librarian, Retired